September 16th, 2007 | Uncategorized

Okay, I’m finding myself in a similar state to the one I was in last spring when I suggested the fateful “open thread” idea. Then I framed it as a concern that an in-group atmosphere on the blog might inhibit newcomers. But now I have a more particular take on the matter.

I’m deeply grateful to everyone who comes here and participates in this conversation. I’m very aware that the blog wouldn’t be here without you. And I’m loathe to inhibit anyone’s expression in any way. But I do feel that when some people post frequently and at great length, that can have an inhibiting effect of its own.

I say this as a lifelong quiet person who is easily silenced by people who have stronger opinions than I do, or are more comfortable expressing themselves in public, or more articulate. You might argue that a blog is a perfect place for the quiet people of the world to finally get a word in edgewise, but I’m not so sure this kind of conversation is that different from the verbal ones we have in person. So I’m making a request that folks moderate the length and frequency of their comments here so that they’re not, in effect, dominating the discussion.

What do you think of that? Is that unreasonable? Maybe there are some teachers here who have tips on how to draw out the quiet people without unduly quashing the natural orators? But let me say, I’m not necessarily trying to get more people to comment. I just don’t want the people who aren’t actively engaged in the conversation to tune out.

147 Responses to “moderation”

  1. JM in the TC says:

    I don’t believe it is necessary to ask folks to moderate the length and frequency of their posts. As a quiet person who almost never posts I find it more interesting to read the posts made by others. I would ask that everyone continue to post frequently and in great length.

  2. Silvio Soprani says:

    Alison, since you summon input from teachers, here is my two cents: in my classe, the best way to encourage the shy ones to speak was to arrange small discussion groups where diverse people are thrown together.

    I taught adult English as a Second Language. I could give specific cultural examples but it would sound like I am stereotyping, and so I will just say that if different kinds of personalities, cultures, genders, etc are thrown together randomly on a daily basis, sooner or later everyone will speak. [or you could say “everyone will grow.”] (this is just based on 5 years of daily observation.)

    On a blog, you are saved from having to manipulate this: we are all here.

    And I don’t think restricting the more “fluent” among us will necessarily free the more quiet to speak. Enthusiasm, interest, humor..these are things that inspire people to speak up. [althugh I confess that from time to time plodding through a particularly long post by someone else has inspired me to try to be more succinct.]

    My suggestion, since you ask, is to let the Darwinian process work itself out. We know whose posts tend to be short and pithy, whose are long and intricate, and within this we notice when a speaker addresses themself specifically to a previous speaker…that always feels so civil and even affectionate… Sooner or later, someone who has not previously posted will do so, be greeted personally, and experience how nice that feels, and be encouraged to keep contributing.

    I advise letting it be.

  3. Kommishonerjenny says:

    I think it’s okay to ask people to self-moderate for length and frequency. Were we a group of people at a party or in a workshop, I would expect similar self-moderation would apply- you’ve done nothing different than most workshop discussion moderators do. You might also achieve this by asking the more quiet folks to speak up by communicating that you value what all of your readers have to say.

  4. friend of bean says:

    You are absolutely right, Alison. I am also a teacher, and I can assure you that there are personality types who will dominate a conversation–posting too often and at too great a length. Small groups can work–but I don’t know that this is practical in this setting. Deborah Tannen has a lot to say on the issue–not that I agree with all of it.

    Online teachers generally do precisely what you are doing–we ask students to confine their comments to about 300 words and we ask them to limit their posting to no more than the average poster. In this thread, that would be about twice per subject.

    I am not shy about generalizing–as you know full well–but it is the case that the academy is not a welcoming place to people of color and particularly not to males of color. People like Soprani justify this with the precise examples that she gives, above, whose inherent classism and ethnocentrism I will not belabor.

    It is very interesting that they had no problem whatsoever criticizing male academics, and still do not, when male academic speak in a way that constricts what they call “female” speech. But, their own theoretically “open” atmosphere which constricts other people–it is the fault of those who will not speak up. This, essentially, blames the victim. The lack of self-awareness here is laughable.

    This is not a welcoming thread. It does not feel nice to post here or to read here. I actually have forced myself to stop reading it because I was tired of the silencing activities which others use and tired of being angry about it. I am delighted that you have noticed them–again, I think that you should just have someone monitor the comments–editing them for length and blocking those which are inappropriate. That’s what the other good blogs do.

  5. K.B. says:

    I love your suggestion! I’m not only a quiet person, I’m also a slow reader. And a busy person. I *always* skip *every* post that is longer than about 10 lines. Brevity is the soul of wit.

  6. the squealer says:


  7. Nina says:

    A brief note from a long-time lurker who rarely, if ever, posts:

    I enjoy watching the active discussions here. I feel as though I’ve gotten to know the participants and, though I don’t usually feel the need to get involved and voice my own opinions, I like hearing all the niggling details of other’s perspectives. I think it provides a rich community and I would hate to have that curtailed to too great an extent. The discussions here have always felt warm and familial to me; there are dominant voices, but never to the exclusion of the rest of us. Thank you to everyone for making it so (especially to Alison – I love the community you have fostered here almost as much as I love your work).

    Just my $.02.

  8. saramarie says:

    I’m another quiet one that rarely comments but reads all the time. If I see someone taking over the conversation (which happens once in awhile), I just ignore their comments and move along. I’m just thrilled to know that Alison reads the blog and comments accordingly. This is an intelligent, thoughtful community – would love to have it stay that way………..

  9. Beth says:

    I mainly just read your posts and skim the responses. I’m naturally ADD, so the longer or more opinionated posts don’t hold my attention anyway.

  10. shadocat says:

    What saramarie said…Seriously, I confess I sometimes ignore comments— if I find them cumbersome or uninteresting, I just skimm through them. Sorry to all who thought I read everything, and sorry to all if I’m posting too much 🙁

  11. Silvio Soprani says:

    Friend of Bean,

    I don’t understand what you meant about “inherent classism and ethnocentrism” since you not only did not belabor; you also did not specify, but I want to point out that my examples from teaching non-native born people living in the USA how to speak English in very mixed classroom groups is not really applicable at all either to “the academy” (it was a non-credit course in a community college…hardly Sydney’s milieu…) or to this blog, since most of us (and by “us” I mean people all over the planet reading this blog) are quite a bit more articulate in English than my students (intermediate level proficiency) were.

    The point I was trying to make is that any randomly chosen 4 people assigned or invited to discuss a topic together will find an equilibrium because each is no longer a minority of one shy person in a class of 25; they become one of four persons relating to each other. That’s all I was trying to say.

    Having made my two posts on this thread I will now retire graciously and resume listening to what others may think. (or perhaps I will dig a hole, ostrich-like, and await a change in the wind…)

  12. liza from pine street art works says:

    Although I regularly learn fascinating things here, I do not think of this blog as a classroom. And although I’ve *met* many interesting people here, I do not think of it as a party. I don’t think people on this blog need to be exhorted either to speak up or to pipe down.

    For me, as a reader, the most important criteria are that people be respectful and interesting, whether they speak a lot or a little. In my opinion, there are no rude boring windbags here. Au contraire.

    It’s not broken: there’s no need to fix it.

  13. Idealistic Pragmatist says:

    I’m a very infrequent commenter, but always a reader. I guess I feel like if I’m intimidated by frequent posters and their eloquence, that’s my problem. I need to own that, and if I want to overcome it, figure out how to tackle that problem. It’s not up to you to shush the others to make me more likely to speak up.

  14. elteegee says:

    yay. good call, AB.

  15. Jeffster83 says:

    One way to shorten posts is to ban words that end in “-ism” “-centric” and “-privileged.” Or to go even further and ban posts that have more than two words that come from Greek, Latin or Academia. I think some who write here would have trouble saying what they mean in plain speech.

  16. bronislava says:

    well, i do feel intimidated by lengthy and intelligent posts, and by the sense that there are ‘regulars’ here, and i start thinking that only people who can participate on that level are ‘allowed’ to join in.

    but i think part of the effect of that is i only want to contribute when i have something thoughtful to say – which makes for a better blog, and i feel like the quality of discussion on here is really good. and also i have sometimes come across threads where new people throw something in, and if it’s interesting, others will welcome them and reflect on what they said.

    and it’s true that what inspires me to post is when there is a lively discussion and interesting, thought-through points that get me thinking.

  17. Marj says:

    Saramarie, I wholeheartedly agree. Well said!

  18. shadocat says:

    Jeffster83, I think you’re being extremely unfair.I am probably one of the plainest speaking people on this blog, and I comment frequently—as I said before, probably too frequently, and I never let the articulate skills of others stop me. With all due respect, if big words put you off, I would suggest that maybe the problem lies with you.

  19. 123Go says:

    I think the idea of asking some people to limit length / frequency could be a productive experiment in differing the dynamic of this blog, if only for a short time. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people’s natural inclination to speak often, or others’ natural inclination to speak less often – but I think all people can sometimes benefit from switching up the mode they’ve become comfortable with. Perhaps if some made a conscious effort to hold back for a bit we would hear a few more voices who would then stay in the conversation over time. It can never hurt to reflect on the patterns one falls into, and experiment with something new.

  20. lurknolonger says:

    I am also an avid lurker and infrequent contributer to this blog, which I awkwardly pointed out to Alison upon meeting her for the first time. But that situation, like my hesitant comments, was created solely by me. I agree with bronislava; it’s not that I’m intimidated by frequent posters, it’s just that sometimes I don’t have anything to say.

  21. Jessica says:

    Hurray! This is a great idea to limit people from posting their theses/dissertations that are too long–perhaps there could be instead links to their own blogs or webpages so that it doesn’t take up a lot of space (but if folks are interested they can go ahead to the webpages/blogs and read the info there)? Thanks AB!!!!

  22. This is an interesting discussion. If I were tabulating the responses, which I’m not, I’d have to come up with a way to estimate all the quiet people who aren’t weighing in!

    Let me just say again, I’m not particularly trying to get more people to comment. I just want to keep the atmosphere inviting to everyone.

  23. Ginjoint says:

    I read several blogs, and most of them do end up with “regulars.” Why wouldn’t they? It’s an arena that attracts like-minded people, or at least people in a similar situation. So they talk. Often. I can think of worse things to happen in the world. I only wish we all had a nice bar to sit around. Comment length? Yeah, I think some comments could use some editing (NOTE: please don’t confuse “editing” with “dumbing down.” That’s not what I’m talkin’ about) – only because sometimes comments that go on for paragraph after paragraph…I dunno…end up fighting somehow with the blogger’s original post. Nome sane? (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

    As a very shy person currently trying to work up the nerve to go to a book reading at my favorite store (A BOOK READING. Where you just sit there! And listen! Pathetic! I know, O.K.?) I think that if someone is so shy they can’t leave a message on a blog, it’s that person’s issue to work on. I’ve worked on it myself, when I felt I wasn’t smart enough to comment here (the consciousness thread? Some comments, I was all WTF?!). Though I do really appreciate your big heart in looking out for the quiet ones…you have a lot on your plate right now, Alison. Let others do their work. (Ah, Christ. I used italics. I hope we don’t end up in Italics Hell. I closed ’em, I promise!)

  24. Ginjoint says:

    ::out of breath::

  25. a quiet person says:

    It’s Sunday night. Maybe all the quiet people are on holiday.

  26. a shy person says:

    as someone who is a quiet person and who has previously felt excluded/unwelcome in various internet forums, i would have to say that the most debilitating thing in these sorts of environments is not the frequency of other posters. rather it is when one does finally get the nerve to post, and then the discussion goes on, with everyone chatting among themselves, obviously with great knowledge of, and interest in, one another, and with absolutely no acknowledgment that you exist. one may think that it is impossible to be snubbed on the internet, but cliques can form everywhere, and it can feel just as hurtful when one raises a voice online and are completely ignored. this has happened to me many times in various internet forums where there seems to be an “in-crowd” who only want to speak to each other. and i’m not saying that this doesn’t just mean that i make boring posts or something, which could be the case, but i do think it is more than that. it has happened to me here as well, though there have also been times when a kindly soul has responded to something in some way, and that makes me feel more comfortable to post something, whereas in other times i’ve felt humiliated. so perhaps the thing to ask rather than for brevity would be for the frequent posters to be more welcoming of newbies or those who are outside their usual circle, and take heed not to only engage with their friends.

  27. sharon says:

    My favorite entries on this blog are the ones describing what people like in the comics. I read the comics and then I get directed to all the things I missed on what I thought was a close read. As a new cartoonist, I find this is extremely useful.

    Sometimes there are recipes. That’s fun, too.

    Sharon Rosenzweig

  28. liza from pine street art works says:

    Yeah, maybe, 123, but which people are you going to ask to limit themselves? The ones who have participated with lively interesting discussion? Because I’m sitting here thinking maybe I’m in that group and maybe I’m not. Who decides? Based on what?

    How does lively conversation discourage people from posting? We can’t interrupt each other, we don’t have to speak in turn and there’s no particular time limit. I don’t get how the commenters who post frequently are keeping others from adding their thoughts. If anything, I think lively discussion engenders lively discussion.

    I don’t see anyone “dominating the discussions” around here. I see passion, I see humor, I see intelligence, I see gleeful geekiness, I see enthusiasm and every once in a while I see some rather mild disagreement. I’ve seen posts I consider annoying, too. But dominating the discussion I don’t see. Enthusiasm isn’t dominance. Frequency isn’t dominance. Longer posts are not necessarily more dominating than shorter ones.

    I’m just not getting it.

  29. Beth says:

    Or maybe the (braver) ones who wished to post have already done so. I am, by the way, joking about the bravery required to post here. It is already a welcoming place. It is easy enough, for me, to brush off responses [to my non-existent posts on this site] if they clash with another’s ideas. As I said before, I mainly tune in for Alison’s perspective and uniquely quirky additions to the list of things to think about when I’m bored. On the subject, is there any way to entice you (Alison) to post more frequently? Even if the posts are not related directly to the strip? Please!?

  30. mlk says:

    as I read these comments, the posts that come to mind are those from folks who are regular readers/lurkers who decide they have something to say and plunge into the fray.

    I’m all for saying something when one has something to say, and reading (or skimming) at other times. for what it’s worth, I sometimes read the longer comments, sometimes skim them and sometimes skip them. my involvement with the blog has more to do with what’s going on in my own life than what’s happening on the blog. perhaps that’s as it should be?

    Alison, I can see how you want us all to have a chance to speak up and, as our host, are mindful of those who are easily silenced. I (sometimes) count myself among that group (those easily silenced) and, at the same time, can be one of those outspoken and frequent posters. I see value in owning how and when we participate in the community here as well as showing consideration for others.

  31. bronislava says:

    a shy person: i agree with you about the worst thing being when you’re “snubbed”. i think that’s what i was trying to say – rather than encouraging people to say less, for example, to make space for ‘shy people’, the trick is encouraging people to say more – specifically, to respond to what new people have written (and in a kind and generous way!)

    and i agree too that this is one of the most friendly blogs/discussion type pages i know about. having alison occasionally ask these questions about whether it’s working well probably helps remind us to be sensitive/aware in our posts 🙂

  32. LondonBoy says:

    My guess is that the vast majority of people here are sufficiently thoughtful and respectful of others that all Alison has to do is comment as she has just done. A good hostess knows how to drop a hint; a good guest knows how to pick it up.

  33. RI Swampyankee says:

    My issue is with the linear nature of the blogosphere. If a day or so passes before I see a new episode or a comment that I would like address, it’s already too late; the rest of the posters have moved on to other things and my .02 are irrelevant. As much as I would like to visit 3+ times a day and join in the discussions, the day-to-day requirements of work and family preclude this so I am relegated to lurking.

  34. 123Go says:

    Liza – I hoped that the spirit of my post was sayiing that it shouldn’t be up to outside people to judge or moderate who should be talking less and who should be talking more. I just thought AB’s suggestion could be a good call for everyone who reads / writes on this blog to think on their own about what their own communication patterns are, and how they might experiment with trying something new. (i.e. People who feel like they talk alot could sit back and watch a discussion unfold without their frequent posting and see how it feels and people who don’t post so much could try out being more active.) I didn’t mean that any outside person should “decide” who gets to do what.

  35. gatheringwater says:

    Perhaps we should seriously consider using a talking stick.

  36. emaline says:

    I always find the atmosphere inviting and I really like reading the comments (although I’ll admit to a little skimming). Are you thinking of discontinuing the blog?

  37. j.b.t. says:

    I really love this blog just the way it is! I don’t contribute that often, but it is not because of anyone else’s posting too much…. I really appreciate all the different threads. I also like how much I learn here, how these discussions expand my thinking, and how fun it can be. And Allison, of course.

    I’m with saramarie – if the posts don’t seem intersting to me, I skip over them.

    Thank you,

  38. April says:

    nonono don’t stop the blog, i’ll post i promise!

    gatheringwater, i think we all have the talking stick – a keyboard 😉

  39. Duncan says:

    Wow, all the “quiet people” seem to be getting awfully loud. ^^

    I’m with liza from pine street artworks. This is not a classroom. We can’t interrupt each other. And as others have pointed out, there’s not even any need to read those long posts (of which I, no doubt, have committed more than my share, with big greco-latinate words! I am guilty of thoughtcrime!) — one can skim, or even skip over them. Since our names are at the beginnings of the posts, it’s even easier when you see the name of a loudmouthed blowhard like me, to skip. And as April pointed out so wisely, we all have the talking stick already.

    It’s true, I’m the kind of person who tends to dominate discussions. I’m kinda surprised to find that Alison is not, because she puts so many words into her comics, with a lot of dialogue and debate and crosstalk. One reason I like the Internet is that it permits people to shut me out if they want. They don’t have to read what I write. Sometimes I post a lot, sometimes I just lurk. Believe it or not, I really am interested in seeing what other people have to say — even when it infuriates me.

    The Internet has its biases. It favors those who can write fluently, and hinders those who can’t. I have the impression, from many years online, that there are people who are able to dominate discussions viva voce, but can’t get the words out at a keyboard, and this bugs them. Such is life. There are also people who rely on personal charm or physical threat to get their way in real life, and are frustrated when those things don’t work online. (Can’t you see how cute I am? Wink! Grin! Blush! Flirt! Argh!) Such is life.

    I’ve often encountered people who talk about male/masculine modes of discourse, combativeness, etc., which they contrast with supposedly nicer female/feminine modes. I understand the concern about combative-adversary debate, though I enjoy it and have learned a lot from it. As for nicer feminine modes, I don’t see it. What I do see, and see here in some of the comments in this thread, are people who use passive-aggressive and other “feminine” methods to try to shut other people up. But they aren’t always feminine: the complaints about big words and academic arguments can come from males as well. (There’s a fine book by Nina Eliasoph, “Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life,” that shows some of the ways this works.)

    As always, Alison: this is your blog, it’s up to you what to do with it, and I’ll accept it whatever you decide. I was surprised to see, when questions like this came up before, that there were people here who didn’t feel that way – like they had a right to demand that you accomodate them. That did shock me a little.

  40. Lydia says:

    brevity is…wit

  41. Josiah says:

    Hmm. I’m one of the more frequent posters, but it was never my intention to dominate the conversation in any way, or to silence anyone’s voice. I’ll try to be less loquacious in future (if you’ll forgive the Latinism, Jeffster).

    I don’t quite understand what Friend of Bean means by “silencing activities”, and would appreciate some concrete examples or an explanation of how the “silencing” happens. It’s hard to correct your behavior if you don’t realize what you’re doing.

  42. Ann S. in Madison says:

    Alison, IMNSHO, you are using an inapplicable paradigm in this post. Online conversations are verrrry different from f2f ones. For one thing, like, 90% of conversational information is stripped out, leaving just bare textual expressions. And those are not nearly as spontaneous as verbal convo’s. Given that typing is slower than speaking, and the ability to correct, re-order, change emphasis, etc., I submit blog dialogue (blogalogue?) is more deliberative and discursive.

    And the freedom of this kind of human interaction is unparalleled. One can read or not read, post or not post as one wishes (absent trolls or flamers). I have had lots of experiences with blogs and BBS. Sometimes I was lauded, sometimes my feelings were hurt. Such is the nature of blogdom.

    You need not assume responsibility for the relationships between other consenting adults, or for others’ self-confidence, and you’ll make yourself nuts if you try. I know whereof I speak, for verily I have sipped from that cup of co-dependence. [loudspeaker: “Paging Ann S. in Madison, your baggage can be claimed on carousel number 5. Baggage now arriving on carousel number 5.”}

    Blogging is a disintermediated tool and should remain so. As with books, one can never anticipate the reader’s reactions, asynchronous and distant. So go make a cup of tea and trust that the universe is unfolding as it should. Kisses.

  43. StopBeingSoPolite says:

    It’s your blog, it’s your rules. Yes I know that sounds eerily like something Commandante Bush would say, BUT in this place, it’s a ok to expect things to be the way that makes YOU MOST COMFORTABLE – that is if we your fans want to continue to enjoy such a truly intimate connection to you.

    Is there any other well-known cartoonist of such endless talent that makes herself/himself so available, no.

    Don’t explain why,just state it and drop it.

    Anyone with half a brain will realize that for you to speak up thusly will infer that you’re not enjoying it, and if you’re not enjoying it,, you might stop.

    That alone would make any fan of yours comply – and quite happily too, for we are all your fans.

    As always excessive modesty can make one blind in ways critical to success when they want it. Don’t be. Don’t make the mistake of so many who automatically make being excessively modest an inherent trait of the altruist. It’s not, it’s the enemy. 🙂

  44. Ducky Sherwood says:


    I mostly lurk here.

    This is very different from a F2F conversation; if someone has a really long post, I just skip over it. Their text doesn’t exclude mine in the same way that soundwaves exclude my speech.

  45. Em says:

    I don’t post too often, but if anything I find the comments here more interesting than anything I could have said. I’m hardly a “quiet” person in real life (though I’m mostly rambling on about something that has no point) but some forums just make for more entertaining lurking. If anything, the hazard of lots of longs posts is that I find myself so immersed in the thread and then I look at the computer clock and realized a whole hour just went by, and that was yet another hour I spent not starting my homework. But hey, it’s not the posters’ fault that I rival Ginger in the lengths I go to to procrastinate! (“Thanks, Ginger. Considering you’d rather fellate Bill Clinton than work on your dissertation, that’s very generous.” Classic.)

  46. ladiesbane says:

    AB, I’m with you. And asking the verbose to self-regulate, at least by keeping comments close to the root topic, isn’t unreasonable. There are oodles of free sites where they (we) can digress to their hearts’ content.

    Your site is so attractive to me because a multitude of topics (esp. gay- and family-related ones) are touched on, with your strip and comments as the starting point to explore the concatenation. It can be tempting to respond with paragraphs that would stun Melville.

    Also, for the record, I tend to skip the lengthy, self-indulgent, or masturbatory comments — and try to delete my own before posting. ‘Cept this one, bien sur!

  47. DTWOF FAN says:

    Can you limit the comment box to 1000 characters? Give everyone the chance to practice the art of editing?

    I skim the long-winded posts and would personally prefer more variety and succint messages.

    On a different topic, isn’t it time for our yearly fund drive to support this site? Can we raise $470 for Alison’s 47th birthday? Or $512 to celebrate strip #512. Or $1000 just for the heck of it?

    The Paypal donate button allows you to use a credit card, not just Paypal. Katie — is there a mailing address for checks?

    Suggested donation is $26 for the year. More if you can. Less if you can’t.

    Read the details at the Support this Site link.

    p.s. I’m pretty sure that was 1000 characters or less.

  48. Maggie Jochild says:

    “Inviting” language?: “Verbose”, “self-indulgent”, “masturbatory”, “ban words that end in ‘-ism’, ‘-centric’ or ‘-privileged”, “The lack of self-awareness here is laughable”, “blocking those which are inappropriate”.

    Yeah, jumping in when given what sounds like permission to criticize and silence those you don’t have the ability to disagree with directly (or ignore) is really going to make it safer for shy people.

  49. Suz says:

    I’m another of the lurkers who doesn’t post often.

    I wonder though if part of what some people are reacting to is just online personality– like in real life, some people rub other people wrong, and what’s fascinating and educational (and I’m always impressed by the depth and breadth of the knowledge here) in someone one likes, is overbearing and lecturing and dominating or domineering when it comes from someone one doesn’t like.

    OTOH, a character limit per post seems to be worth a try at the very least.

  50. van says:

    Hi, AB. I’m not sure how you get the impression that most of the ‘quiet’ ones are like so due to an intimidating convo ambience. If it’s any help, as one of your more lurker-than-poster blog readers, I offer some assurance that this is not the case (it’s more of lousy time management in my case). I/we? find the diversity and depth of the discussions highly interesting to read– if it’s not, scrolling down really doesn’t take much effort.

    As far as conduciveness goes, your blog’s is tops; if I suspect correctly, a number of active posters here are introverts IRL, so that says a lot. I don’t mind reading ten posts (of reasonable length) on a single thread from the same poster if s/he is onto something interesting… and most often they are. I don’t think limiting these posts will necessarily result to the ‘quiet’ ones engaging any more than we do now.

    Anyway, I’ll remain liking this blog regardles of how you want to shape it.

  51. another lurker says:

    I’ve read D2WOF since I was sixteen, which was over a decade and a half ago, and check in with this blog almost every day, yet this is my first post. In my day to day life, no one on earth would describe me as quiet or shy, but in my daily life I am part of the hegemony of the able-bodied white straight middle class and here I would only be judged by my words and thoughts (terrifying thought!) One of the things I value about blogs is the ability to receive an idea without the baggage and preconceptions that come with face to face communication. I appreciate this blog as a forum that gives voice to a lot of people whose voices are underappreciated, laden with stereotyped preconceptions, or silenced in day to day life and unheard of in mainstream American media. While, yeah, some posts do get a bit long for me, I so value all the things I learn from the posts that I would hate to see them limited and those voices silenced.

  52. gamma lexicon says:

    Okay using my “talking stick ” ( I loved that comment by carryingwater was it ? ) I’ve never posted before and while I realize this wasn’t AB’s intent via her thread to encourage anonymous readers to post, I would like to share my appreciation for this blog. I the threads and subsequent discussions very,very much.

  53. gatheringwater says:

    DTWOF FAN writes: “On a different topic, isn’t it time for our yearly fund drive to support this site? Can we raise $470 for Alison’s 47th birthday?”

    What about selling little DTWOF talking sticks?


    Then how about everyone just pitching in their own two cents as per usual?

  54. Suz says:

    Talking sticks?

    Surely we can come up with something less phallocentric.

  55. gamma lexicon says:

    Finger puppets ?( Just kidding, ) and gatheringwater, sorry I mistaked your screen name.

  56. Leda says:

    I have been a long time lurker and occasional poster and none of my posts have ever been commented on and no remarks have ever been addressed to me but I don’t take that as snub or feel intimidated or humiliated – why would I? This is a list of comments; the fact that mine didn’t move someone to comment on it does not constitute an exclusion. It seems to me that the community here is not an ongoing solid thing, it occurs organically and magically at random around a specific conversation. I think if you are enjoying and following the conversation, you are part of it. However if you are not interested in the conversation developing and deepening before your eyes then it can seem as though things are being taken over. I think it entirely depends on whether or not the conversation in hand floats your boat and that’s never going to be unanimous.

    Of course, I am capable of skimming conversation I am not enjoying or interested in but I do wonder what would happen there was an area for conversation that was separate to this chronological list of comments, (which was presumably designed as an area to comment on Alison’s posts, not really each other’s). Someone earlier (not sure who – apols) said if its not broken, don’t fix it – I don’t think anything’s particularly broken as such but I think this comments section is trying to do two things at once (not always successfully) and there’s no harm in thinking about those two things and if this is the best way to achieve them.

    Personally I’m all for the finger puppets, what about cut-out-and-make DTWOF character ones? 😉

  57. caroline says:

    As a longtime lurker, I enjoy all of the posts. This seems very different from the days when one had to endure group processing in the “fish bowl.” In those situations the most passionate speakers often monopolised the discussions while, sadly, I had to either speak or sit politely until the last shred of interest I had in the matter waned.

    Here I find most discussions interesting, but I always have the option of scrolling…

  58. Mabel says:

    I totally understand and agree with what AB is saying. There are a handful of people that make me say “yadda, yadda, bloody shut up!”. I post less than I want to because I sometimes feel like these people are having a kinda peeing contest or showing off. I also sometimes feel like I could be intruding, especially since sometimes I think people might know AB personally and I don’t want to tread on any toes.

    But you know, it always amazes me just how well regulated this blog is. In general, blogs are pretty uncontrollable, so I’ll take a handful of chatterboxes over a couple of trolls.

  59. laura says:

    I LOVE the blog and the discussions and conversations. I learn and change my ideas so much that sometimes I feel ashamed of what I thought previously. The comix, the blog, the dialogue put me in contact with the US and an important part of its culture (this is particularly important now that I am away).

    As a first reaction, I would not change it: I agree with Mabel that it is amazing how well regulated the blog is. Plus, in a blog it is easy to skip whatever one does not like (be it over-long, overshort, pompous, overly simplistic comments, or comments from the same old people).

    But then, people indeed feel that they are silenced, by aggressive comments, by excess of other posts, or by people knowing each other, or by being snubbed (shy person try taking it less personally, it may depend on loads of reasons, including that others agree and think “WOW, she said it so well I am not going to repeat it”).

    I salute, therefore, Alison’s initiative to ask people to self-moderate. Hope you all continue making this blog a great place.

  60. advo-runner-mom says:

    A few thoughts – I have been working with collaborative technology for a couple of decades…

    The blog is always open for comment. You can measure the vibrancy of the community supporting the blog by how many posts, or by how many different people are posting.

    You can get a different kind of measurement by noting the connections between postings/posters: how many times do posters get into “conversations” with the same other posters, how many one-off comments are left isolated.

    In some ways, this modality is perfect for the quiet or shy who can type and hit enter on their comment without having to wait for someone else to cede the floor. Those who would prefer ‘inclusion’ by this amorphous ‘community’ by having their posts responded to may be up against more tension and less likely to post.

    Nobody is participating in this blog under any kind of contract, social or otherwise. I didn’t promise that by reading or posting comments to Alison’s blog that I’d even read anyone else’s comments, much less build relationship with any other posters. That’s a nice side-benefit of reading semi-regularly and posting once in a while.

    If Alison wants, she could try to layer on some kind of social contract whereby posting lengths are limited, or reflective reference to others’ posts are strongly recommended. And that would be pretty interesting, though not everyone has the same slice of time available for doing the work to get to the next quantum level of community suggested by a stronger social commitment through the blog comments…

  61. Alex the Bold says:

    I suggest everyone try to be mindful of how long their posts actually are. On occasion, I notice that I’ve gone on far longer than I anticipated.

    Perhaps a nice rule of thumb would be something like:

    Try to limit it to about 2000 characters (or 40 lines or six paragraphs or whatever).

    AND, once you’ve posted, you have to wait at least four posts (or five or six or three or whatever) before you post again.

    This of course, reminds me of a long, detailed story with many subpoints …

  62. Tsin says:

    40 lines?

  63. Hayley says:

    People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they are willing to remain actually fools.
    Alice Walker

    I think if the frequent posters were more conscious of the inhibitions of less frequent posters who may feel that their opinions and observations are not as valued as others’ comments may be AND if posters who feel that the comment board is too pedantic or clique-y fight through the feeling and post anyway…we may all meet half way and improve upon an already amazing, awesome blog.

  64. Marty - an infrequent poster says:

    1 – “brevity is the soul of wit” – brevity in itself is not always a good thing. We all have the option to skim or skip long posts. My concern is that we (as a community) do not want to encourage simple “sound bites” when complex ideas are being explored (FOX vs. NPR news for example). Given that, we should all try to edit ourselves appropriately.
    2 – DTWOF Fan brings up an interesting concept. I just went to a Lesbian Health Initiative Fundraiser (primarily for Cancer, I’m sorry to say, not survivors). I know they had to make $10,000 to break even on expenses before even getting money for their 2008 goals. If we are to contribute to individual artists livelihood (unlike an organization where we can see the numbers), what is a reasonable expectation of sharing financial information that does not intimidate or humiliate Alison, but still allows us to contribute comfortably? I know there is a book contract, the musical contract, speaking fees, possible other income (?) and I know all these activities cost money to accomplish. If we are going to do a fundraiser, can we get some sense of how much money she needs? (And in our class conscious world, how do we judge “need” in a fair way without actual data?)
    3 – Is this not brief enough? Keep up all the great dialogue!

  65. DTWOF FAN says:

    The fundraiser isn’t for Alison, it is for us, so we can continue to enjoy reading DTWOF on-line.

    Here’s what Alison says in the “Support This Strip” section: (I’ve trimmed it some, you can read it all if you click on “Support the Strip” in the upper left of this site.)

    If this is your main source for reading Dykes To Watch Out For, please consider clicking on the PayPal button over there and ponying up some dough from time to time (guideline: a buck a strip). [Note, you can use a credit card as well as PayPal, with this form]

    Here’s why:
    I used to earn my living from syndicating my comic strip to newspapers. But as the media landscape has changed, the number of those papers has been dwindling, along with the income that I’m able to make from them.

    Increasingly, readers are following the strip online, on this website, where it’s available for no charge.

    There are lots of costs involved in maintaining a website, and it also takes a fair amount of time on my part. Above that, I’d really like it if income from the strip would make up for my shrinking newspaper income.

    In the end, my decision has been to go with the National Public Radio model–to rely on voluntary donations from people who read my comics here regularly.

    So give what you can to keep the strip and this vibrant, thoughtful and entertaining site alive. If you want to donate by check, we are looking for an address by which to do that.


  66. shadocat says:

    Here is my comment for the day: Alison herself set the contribution limit at $12 a year, due to the drop in the number of new strips a year (from 1 every 2 weeks to 1 each month).

    How was that? Not an “ism” in the whole thing!

  67. Deborah says:

    First of all, a big shout-out to Leda – I wanted to respond to your post!

    Interesting conversation. I feel mostly that AB gets to make the rules that she wants, and I will humbly abide by them, but I love the blog as it is (I add a comment from time to time) and love that this is a place where we can be smart, thoughtful, silly, and adoring of the great AB.

    And for the record, I like words both big and small.

    And I agree with DTWOF FAN – it is time for an annual DTWOF_web drive to support this amazing forum.

  68. Bella says:

    How about his for a donation guideline?

    $12 if you never read, re-read, or comment on the old strips.

    $24 if you do.

    $26 to cover all the YouTube movies.

    $30 for the “Which Politician is in the Closet this Week?” dish.

    $36 if you learned something new about insects, birds, or bats in the last year.

    $40 if you learned something new about yourself.

  69. little gator says:

    Jeffster83-lots of English words come from Latin and Greek. I have visions of everyone having to look up the derivation of every word they write here.

    I have no idea how many of the words in this comment are derived from Greek or Latin.

  70. bean says:

    i can’t believe that folks are so upset by the mere suggestion that they consider self moderation out of consideration for others, when several (many?) others have indeed indicated that they have at times felt snubbed, ignored, silenced, or accused-of-political-correctnessed out of the desire to express themselves.

    would those folks prefer real moderation to self moderation?

    someone earlier said essentially “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    well, alison bechdel wrote “I just want to keep the atmosphere inviting to everyone.” And so, that is the definition of what this blog is meant to be. Is it meeting that criterion? It seems like maybe not. in that case, it is broke, and may require fixing.

  71. shadocat says:

    Okay I’m going to break my self-imposed “one comment” rule this ONE time! I do not think this is the right or appropriate time for a D2WO4 fund drive. Most of the comments here have been respectful, but some have not, and people have been wounded. Plus, I think it’s a safe guess most of us need the cash more than Alison does right now. Can we just get through this “how we get to communicate here” thread before we move on to other things?

  72. liza from pine street art works says:

    The problem with the NPR model is that if you donate to public radio or tv it qualifies as a tax exempt donation and their tax records are public information. I’m not saying that this site isn’t worth 12 bucks a year. Of course it is. But it’s more like a subscription with, as Shado says, a fixed price.

    Giving what you can (whatever that means) – if that sum is over the subscription rate – is another matter. At that point, per Marty, I want to see the budget and financial data. And that goes for any charitable donation to any non tax exempt organization.

    If you want to give long term support to a writer, buy their books. It benefits them in the long run with much larger advances on future work. Give art and literature as gifts. Get your friends and colleagues to buy art and books by your favorite artist/writer. Support organizations, stores, and galleries that support the arts, particularly your local ones.

  73. Marsha says:

    I have been regularly reading this blog and most of the comments ever since it began. I haven’t felt intimidated, but up to now didn’t feel inspired to post. I’ll weigh in on the side of keeping going as it has been. I guess my inspiration to post now is to communicate to Alison that I am a lurker who doesn’t feel a need for changes.

  74. Sir Real says:

    Mea culpa!

    Yup, I know I go on at excessive length on some topics; polyamory, – well, mostly on polyamory. However, I agree with Marty-an infrequent poster, that over-simplifying does not serve the charmingly complex ideas that AB’s cartoons and blog bring to light.

    Also, overly-brief treatment and omissions can warp the intended/original meaning, as Lydia points out with incredible economy, “brevity is…wit”. At least, that’s how I interpret Lydia’s comment…

    It seems very odd, to me, and contrary to AB’s m.o., to suggest keeping big-ol-fancy words out of it – Fun Home sent me to the dictionary more times than any book has in at least a decade!

  75. 'Rora says:

    Maybe it would help everyone if there were a place to write a subject line for posts. It wouldn’t break things up as much as threading, but it would make it easier to skim. Sometimes I’ve had something to say but not really wanted to post it without checking to see if it had already been talked about and since I tend to read fairly late in the discussion that is a lot of work.

    Mostly though, I don’t post because I don’t have to. My favorite place in most group conversation is as informal moderator trying to clarify things when people are miscommunicating or putting in ideas no one else seems to be coming up with. Most of the time, this blog doesn’t seem to need me to do that so I just read.

    On the use of complex vocabulary:
    This sort of writing is designed to make and discuss fine distinctions and I love it because it makes it so much easier to specify exactly what my argument applies to and avoid generalizations. I know it can exclude people who haven’t learned it but it’s something I value and I only have it because I was exposed to it. Not using this language just makes it unavailable to more people. Of course it can be misused and overused, but most of the time when I’ve seen that here it’s been parody.

  76. Marty says:

    Thanks to what DTWOF fan said, I have some more questions. If we are not supporting the artist herself, and we are supporting the blog itself, then we need to ask about (forgive the term) the “business model” Alison is using for this blog.

    The company I work for has a website, which costs plenty of money to sustain, and does not produce revenue directly or show ads. They perceive it as both an advertising tool for the other things we do (like produce plays or sell books) because it increases the awareness of those, and a community service (to keep people in our field informed re: trends & other things going on in our field).

    Newspapers are losing revenue because less people are buying them because the media world is changing. Where is our responsibility as authors/artists/workers to keep up with the changing world (in addition to our art) and where do we reasonably ask others to help us?

    I’ve got 3 homeless people in my neighborhood whom I sometimes feed/eat lunch with or give a little money to. They will do odd jobs for whatever I’m willing to give them. I don’t get a tax exempt donation, but I do understand that they aren’t currently capable of thinking about a business model – other than asking for help.

    If Alison wants to charge to read her blog, she has all the right in the world – McKinsey charges for their research reports online. I just want it to be clear it isn’t a “donation” as such, it is a fee (even if it is voluntary). If she wants to ask for help because she doesn’t have enough money that’s a different thing.

  77. CE says:

    As a self professed quiet person who also loves DTWOF, but has felt stifled whenever posting my opinion due to some of the regulars picking other people’s posts to pieces…I don’t think that’s such a bad idea that AB has put forth.

    Length doesn’t bother me so much as simply other people getting snippy with each other, belittling people, picking their posts to pieces, and so on. People, you can post without having to be rude to other people. If they say something you don’t like or agree with, fine but don’t be rude to them. Use your brain and argue your point effectively, not treat them like children. I thought that was what was separated liberals from conservatives, the ability to express ideas and opinions without putting others down and being rude. I guess I was wrong.

  78. Suz says:

    Whyever should we assume that we have ownership or management of this blog (or any other of AB’s activities), and therefore the right to its/her financial information? The fact that AB is asking for optional donations rather than gating the site and going pay-for-play doesn’t change the fact that it’s her site, her strip, her prerogative to charge or not as she sees fit.

  79. meg says:

    o, for Sweet Peep’s sake, pony up the money already if you want to! Support your local artist.

    and if you don’t want to, or can’t afford to, don’t.

    re: all the rest of it. Listen to the blog’s author and owner; it’s common courtesy.

  80. Spark says:

    re: self-moderation . . .

    I tend toward being a quiet observer in larger groups, and a lively, active listener and contributor in groups w/ close friends or in dyads.

    I’d like to pretend that shorter/fewer posts would mean I’d contribute more often. But I don’t think that’s the only dynamic at work (here) for me.

    The best I can come up w/ for the moment is that I read this blog to unwind, to mull, to have a bit of brain candy w/ a sense of community, rather than looking at it as another place to converse/bring myself forward. For those reasons, I really appreaciate AB’s and everyone else’s work, even if at times I skim through some comments and/or threads.

    When I do comment, I like to have read the full thread (my proclivity) and, in that context, shorter/fewer comments might help, though I sure wouldn’t want to miss out on the quality of what exists. Hmm. Maybe then I’d just jump into a conversation early 🙂 That would be novel for me!

  81. kate mckinnon says:

    Alison, I would weep tears of gratitude if the people who post full page essays one to four times in each topic, sometimes with footnotes, quotes, follow-up posts to correct spelling, grammar, or to add another thought, would control themselves and limit length and frequency. I don’t see it happening, but I thank you for bravely raising the issue.

  82. Sir Real says:

    Mea culpa!

    Yup, I know I go on at excessive length on some topics; polyamory, – well, mostly on polyamory. However, I agree with Marty-an infrequent poster, that over-simplifying does not serve the charmingly complex ideas that AB’s cartoons and blog bring to light.

    Also, overly-brief treatment and omissions can warp the intended/original meaning, as Lydia points out with incredible economy, “brevity is…wit”. At least, that’s how I interpret Lydia’s comment…

    It seems very odd, to me, and contrary to AB’s m.o., to suggest keeping fancy words out of it – heck, Fun Home sent me to the dictionary more times than any book has in eons.

    On the fourth hand – well, I’ll explicate that hand later, perhaps. 😉

  83. Sarah says:

    Well, I have to agree with Kate McKinnon. Brevity indeed. Modding your own blog must be hard especially as even the mildest criticism cannot be mitigated by vocal inflection (always a problem on these fings, mate). XS

  84. Pam I says:

    A quick click on the clustrmap (on home page) shows that this site gets around 3000 hits a day. Many will be from spambots and other random visitors,leaving let’s say 1000 a day. So therefore a lot of people come to the site, check AB’s text or today’s ‘toon, and leave. Maybe they read the comments. Maybe not. Maybe they come back, or not. It must provide nourishment to an awful lot of people – especially the non-metropolitan, non out, isolated dykes and others.

    Back in my baby dyke days I would essentially eavesdrop on the Big Girls – learning lots, or just being entertained. Hard to imagine keeping schtum now – but at the time it felt just fine and what I needed. I love this blog and its discursiveness and randomness and that it can go from bats’ consciousness to Condee’s flatmates in a line or two.

    It would get a bit long if 1000 readers a day posted, just to say Hi. Perhaps AB should suggest that, once? We may find out if it’s the same people every day too.

  85. Jessie says:

    I’m usually quiet, but I love reading all the exchanges. I don’t think anything needs to be changed.

  86. rhonda winter says:

    Brevity is the soul of wit.

  87. JoeBeason says:

    I consider another social board my “home”, where I’ll chat up a storm. I don’t post anywhere near that much here, but not because I feel excluded or that the volume is too high. I come here for the strips and info about AB; the posts are just a side benefit that I’ll check out if I have time.

  88. Dweeb says:

    I think your blog should be your blog, Allison, with a separate link to a message board.

    I came here to learn more about you, not about everybody else.

    At first I thought the commenting was cool and intimate, but over time it seems that the comments are longer than your posts. I quickly became bored of this.

    There’s some great stories in these comments, but I have visual and attention difficulties that have made me skip the comments altogether for the last few months. Scrolling all the way down the page gives me a headache, and I can’t follow the context of various posts.

    I think a basic message board would be a great addition to the blog, so that we all can read or comment on more specific subjects that spring to mind when we experience your art.

    If I could search topics or the people who are posting, I’d be more interested and active.

    Here’s an analogy; what you have now is this ever-evolving conversation, sort of like at a cocktail party. The party is getting a little loud, and honestly, I think it’s overpowering -you-.

    What you could have is more like a library, and folks can browse the subjects they want. It’s off to the side, and the main event is your blog, your thoughts, your art.

    Rather than setting length limits, set up a separate message board, hon.

  89. spoil sport says:

    I do not think Alison should be expected to set up a separate message board. Those who are posting here as if it were a message board should start up a separate and independent board and discuss what you will, but leave the blog a blog.

  90. Maggie Jochild says:

    For those of you who want to go on talking about class (or the Emmys, opera, language, art, polar exploration, Ozma of Oz, drag king name contests, epigenetics, red hair, recipes, etc.), who aren’t intimidated by unfettered curiosity or big ole words, who don’t want posts that will fit on their IM screen — hop over and join/don’t join us at We won’t count your lines, make fun of your accent, steal your photographs or ask that you follow the rules (except Be Nice). It’s a windbag-I-mean-group-moderated blog, so somebody will definitely say hi and remember your name.

  91. liza from pine street art works says:

    spoil sport- you mean when people converse it isn’t a blog? Who knew?

  92. Kaptain Equinox says:

    Wow, look at all those lengthy posts!

    Seriously, it’s your blog. Run it any way you want to.

  93. LM says:

    I suppose one could resolve to model one’s posts on its subject: AB’s work…witty, articulate, analytical, slightly snarky…oh, and rather infrequent. I admit that I generally read even the longer posts. My penence for being old enough to have been spared the entire post-modern ho-hummery. In truth, though, the only thing that really makes my eyelids droop is being asked to analyse a blog.

  94. So UN-pc says:

    AS one of the life-long quiet nerdlike creatures (if you can believe it), I have to make the point that I am sure that it actually took a lot of mustering and thought for Alison to actually approach the subject with us; the VERY LEAST we can all do (we can ALL do) is try to be mindful of that fact and respectful of her wishes. Yes, I am sure that there are “lurkers” that have not felt put off by it; but surely you can concede that there are probably just as many that have. As a small (or not) aside, I am personally interested in what the most frequent and lengthy posters do as occupation. Can ya’ll chime in? I’m sure you have before, but I missed it.

  95. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hilarious, UN-pc — we’re in the middle of a discussion elsewhere about the class implications of being asked “what do you do?”

    I earn money by transcribing dictation from physicians for whom English is a distant second language into clear, concise, legal medical reports. It’s not “what I do”.

    I’m a poet, mother, online activist, currently writing two fiction novels (one sci-fi). I have no college degree and am multiply disabled, so if I lose my paying job I will go into a nursing home.

  96. spoil sport says:

    Liza FPSAW- I am refering to the difference between leaving a comment about a blog post and chatting away about someones daily musings that may or may not be related to the blogger’s post. Some of the posts would be better suited to a message board, where they could be fleshed out.

  97. a reader says:

    I have only written on this blog a couple of times, because i am not comfortable writing. But I like to read and I used to like reading this blog. Something like this happened before and I stopped reading, because everyone got so mean and nasty. I started reading it again, but now it is getting nasty again . It looks like Allison is really objecting to one person. Why doesn’t she just block her, and let the rest of the bloggers alone?

  98. liza from pine street art works says:

    I think the host has left the party.

  99. Olivier says:

    The problem with “brevity is the soul of of wit” (since this must have been asserted half-a-dozen times already) is that, even assuming that were true, wit is not the be-all and end-all of a conversation, which I thought is is what we are having here.

  100. RI Swampyankee says:

    Being as I am from Vo Dilun might I suggest a Vo Dilun method of fundraising? Take some cash, put it in an envelope, drop it in a box, and don’t be like the incompetent politician who threw out his 10K bribe with the remains of his Walt’s roast beef sandwhich.

  101. RI Swampyankee says:

    sandwich (oops)

    Another solution would be for AB to toss out new bait, I mean new topics, more frequently. That way different threads could run longer and more people could be more actively involved.

  102. Susan says:

    I’m a long time lurker, too (typical for a quiet person) and the nice thing about blog comments is you don’t have to listen to what you’re not interested in–you’re not trapped–you can just move on. And sometimes the short comments are more inane and boring than the long ones, anyway . . .

  103. Deborah says:

    Alison, striving for thoughfulness
    Have we all made your blog a mess?
    So many goodies
    For comics and foodies
    These lesbians endlessly will process!


  104. Saramedic says:

    My two cents worth: The website’s author and host has asked for more concise posts. I agree with a previous poster, who suggested that people with a great deal to say simply post a link to their own websites.

  105. Ian says:

    I agree with whoever suggested it – just get your web-mistress to limit the number of characters available in the comment box. 1500 – 3000 ought to be enough.

    It’s not nice to see the attitude of some commenters who clearly believe they own the blog. They don’t – AB does. The internet is not a democracy.

  106. Danna says:

    Danna from New Hampshire, first time long time. I enjoy the strip, I went to see AB speak at my college 100 years ago at RISD, I dip into the comments to read the feedback, and that’s about it.

    I think a word count is a great suggestion if you want to keep the dithering at bay. Maybe give people a siggy-line where they can make sure folks are aware of their edumakashun, specialness, and skillz so no one feels their Phd is left out.

  107. gatheringwater says:

    You’re right, Ian. The Internet isn’t a democracy; it is a mob and needs small incitement to drag out the pitchforks and torches. A very little more of this sort of thing and I imagine we’ll see a proliferation of unofficial DTWOF sites to watch out for. That would be a shame, because part of the charm of this site is the diverse commentary that helps carry fans between the long stretches between posts. It may be AB’s blog, but it is our Internet.

  108. Dr. Empirical says:

    I think that yet again, everyone is over-reacting. Alison made a suggestion. That’s all. We should note the suggestion and attempt to comply to the extent we believe the suggestion applies to us and our posts. That is all.

  109. Aunt Soozie says:

    Being an offender of frequency and volume I admit that I felt chastised when I read Alison’s post. I felt a need to quiet down but didn’t feel disheartened…until the onslaught of these comments.

    The sniping back and forth totally depresses me. Normally I’m quite the cheerleader but I have my limits. Y’all are bringing me down.

    Akin to what LM said…this is so meta…blogging about blogging about blogging (in addition to being mean) it gives me a major headache.

    At that, I’ll retire my verbosity for a spell. Oh, and un-PC…I’ll answer in this way;I have a busy full life but I like it here… usually. I’m opinionated, I like to communicate in writing and I type quickly. Sometimes that’s a problem. And even though I do have a real life…this actually saddens and disappoints me. I don’t know what to make of that.

  110. Meg says:

    I don’t like debate it always seems like arguing to me. But I love you because your books helped me when I needed it the most. Plus this is your blog, if you can’t be Queen here where can you be Queen?

  111. mysticriver says:

    Here’s an analogy; what you have now is this ever-evolving conversation, sort of like at a cocktail party. The party is getting a little loud, and honestly, I think it’s overpowering -you-.

    Dweeb: Brilliantly put!

    Alison, it’s definitely not unreasonable. We’re here to see you, but sometimes you get lost in the smoke. The comments often overwhelm your own expression.

    This blog is not like any other blog I’ve ever seen, it’s more like a message board. People don’t interact with the blogger so much as they do with each other. It must sometimes feel as isolating for you as it does for any of the shy (or less loquacious) posters.

    The sheer number of comments that each post on this blog generates would be enviable to any other blogger…until one starts reading them and realizes they have little to do with the blog content. It’s like the friendliest sort of blog spam.

    Sure, one can choose not to read the lengthier and/or droning posts, but it’s a pain to wade through if one is trying to find the stuff that’s on topic. And sure, comments that drift off-topic do happen naturally and that’s okay, but there is a big difference between “This post reminds me of a story…” and “Today my cat did the cutest thing…” when the topic is, say, book readings.

    Maybe there is a separate fan site where everyone can get their ya-yas out before coming here? Failing that, the character limit idea is a good one – it works nicely for’s “Have Your Say” section.

    (And sorry, it would appear I’ve gone on too long myself…)

  112. Nickel Joey says:

    I’ve only posted once before — and despite my doubts about how being Commenter #112 or 113 is going to add anything new to the discussion, I’ll say this:

    The one cool thing I take away from the entire conversation here (including even the anger and snarkiness and hurt feelings) is that most of us are inarguably passionate about this community of sorts, and about what we read or write here. And we want it to continue. I mean, at the risk of being too sunny-side-up, which is kind of unusual for me . . . that is pretty cool, isn’t it?

    Beyond that, I’m with Dr. E, a few posts up. Alison made a request and then was actually nice enough to ask us if we felt okay about it. Isn’t the best response, based on our admiration and respect for her and her work, simply to say, “Sure!” and do our best to comply?

    Here’s to the next post and the next meandering conversation! (raising my glass of Bailey’s on the rocks)

  113. mlk says:

    thank you, Dr. E., for your sensible post.

    Aunt S. sorry the comments here have gotten you down. people seem to take *any* comment about the blog — from Alison, or from others — as an opportunity to state private thoughts that probably should remain private! please, don’t take them personally — I kinda see it that folks have let out a breath that’s been held in, quickly and noisily, instead of emitting a sigh of relief.

    I love your wit and cheerleading ways. may they return quickly, after the briefest of setbacks . . .

  114. Brazenfemme says:

    How will I procrastinate my dissertation if comments are shorter?! Seriously, I am an avid reader of the blog, but rarely post. Kudo’s to Pam I for the welcome she gave me when I did. I have spent the last two weeks setting up and negotiating “classroom conditions” both in person and virtually with my students and a big concern for me as an educator is equitable contributions. Folks have pointed out that this is not a classroom, but it is a community. So perhaps instead of asking how we curtail frequent or lengthy contributions, how do we make this welcoming, as was AB’s concern? Personally, the DTWOF books were a “fictional”, but vital, community I could have when living in very isolated communities, and this blog has been a community as well – beautiful and flawed – enriched by humour, critical thinking, conflict, and yes, sometimes lenghty digressions from which I learn a lot.

  115. Jana C.H. says:

    There is always Maoist Orange Cake, and we follow what happens on DTWOF pretty closely, so it won’t be like you’re in the wilderness. One of the reasons we were created was that so the discursive (and those who enjoy reading discursiveness) could follow their taste without cluttering up AB’s blog. We don’t want to steal AB’s readers, just expand the view of those who like having their views expanded.

    We have two threads running now, one about social and economic classes, and one about a recent murder in Tashkent. If you’re not interested, ignore this post. If you are, give us a try.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle, Soviet of Washington
    Old U.S.S.R. Joke: There’s no Pravda in Izvestia and no Izvestia in Pravda.

  116. D.F. says:

    thanks Alison, you rock. thanks for the reminder too that vehemence takes up space / can be silencing, not just length.

    as a talker, and returning to the classroom as a student, i’m trying to figure out how to best to contribute in a way that supports equitable participation. i’ve noticed that just shutting up doesn’t necessarily do it, though it does sometimes. often, though, it’s more about *how* i pipe up: do i make space and invite participation?

    any thoughts welcome.

  117. kate says:

    as someone that teaches university on-line courses, i appreciate the diverseness of opinion shared here–it’s what i’d like to see my students do. and i know that this isn’t a classroom but it’s nice to hear about things of which i know nothing (who knew i could now know so much about bats?).

    i agree with liza’s first post (i didn’t read the second because i, too, sometimes follow k.b.’s 10 line rule, depending upon the subject) that there’s really nothing to fix. i’m a generally shy person at first but the longish posts wouldn’t keep me from saying something if i feel it needs to be said. ducky sherwood said it best.

    duncan’s right, the quiet people have suddenly gotten really loud! brevity is sometimes the soul of wit, sometimes not. c’est mon $0.02 (and i purposely violated the 10 line rule). but it’s your blog, so do what you want.

  118. kate says:

    oh, and i hated to see that aunt soozie took this all so personally!

  119. cz says:

    Y’all are crazy. I come to read the strips and hear what Alison has to say. The comments by everyone else just make me marvel at how accurate some stereotypes are.

    But don’t let me interrupt your analysis. Please, please continue.

  120. Sarah in VT says:

    Perhaps a forum is in order. Moderated by a volunteer that isn’t you, to free up time. It can have threads to discuss the strip, to discuss your posts, to discuss anything and everything, but it would be independent.

  121. JonC says:

    Personally, I like reading the frequent posters on this and other message boards. I like to know something about the personality of the poster and how they will react to a different subject. If I find somebody to be too verbose then I’m all to efficient with my scroll bar to ignore them. However, I personally find that having one thousand unknown posters comment on a topic is not as interesting to read as a dozen known quantities having a conversation.

    Certainly having posters post frequently has never affected my likelihood to comment.

  122. Chewy says:

    Infrequent poster commenting for the count, which Alison is not tabulating. I read AB’s posts and enjoy her vids, skim and skip the comments.

  123. LM says:

    By the way, one poster’s objection to others’ Greco-Latinate polysylabic proclivities had the desired effect on me. My immediate reaction was short and Anglo-Saxon. Bye for a while.

  124. Sarah C says:

    I will let no fellow poster stand between me and my love of Greco-Latinate words! That said, I do admit an aversion to posts that seem to have been lifted right out of Theoretical Critiques of Critical Theory. I skip those posts, out of a dislike of academic jargon more than anything else.

    Or, as Lois responded in DTWOF 231, when Sydney asked if she’d be willing to be interviewed for a paper on “Gender Transgression Under Advanced Capitalism”: “Uh … I don’t think so. Theory gives me hives.”

  125. Aunt Soozie says:

    Y’all make it hard to be stubbornly silent…also, don’t want to be accused of copy catting LM. Plus…I’ve only posted once in this whole thread and I don’t even know if I’ve used any Greco-Latinate words. (Honey, would you get Mommy the dictionary?) See what can happen when you’re peri-menopausal? Did ya know Alison and I are almost the same age?

  126. AvidLibrarian says:

    Okay, anyone besides me amused at the length of the discussion on the “Moderation” thread? And yet, here I go, adding to it. 🙂 As a frequent lurker who rarely posts, I am in favor of responses that get to the point. Longer posts exhaust me and I give up on reading the thread altogether — I only scroll so far before giving up. I like the variety, and enjoy reading some of the frequent fliers, but it is important to remember that we are all guests at AB’s electronic house here. This ain’t a democracy, folks, nor should it be. Our gentle host suggests some guidelines, and the mannerly response would be to do our best to play by her rules, or go ahead and start your own blog. Our focus here should be supporting and enjoying AB’s work (and play).

  127. Dana in CA says:

    As with real life, the people that interest me, I listen to, those that don’t, I don’t hang out with as much. Aunt Soozie is awfully funny to me, so I often enjoy reading her posts, even if they are long or often. Blog moderation seems like a microcosm of life, if it isnt all “Yall are so great and wonderful,” people get all sensitive and hurt. I guess people want to be seen and heard, some more than others. C’est la vie. I still love this blog, Alison’s gifts of insight into her life, process, whatever, as well as the comments that are often a window into a community that I don’t really have in my real life.

  128. Constant Irritant says:

    This is my first post because I read the blog via Google Reader. I never see the comments. If Alison can see how many people are using RSS (and consequently not seeing the comments) that might give her an idea of how many really, REALLY quiet folks there are. Like me. (Until a minute ago.) But since I don’t have a dog in this hunt anyway, I should probably have stayed a-lurking. CI.

  129. notpeanut says:

    Ducky Sherwood, I think you should post more often, because I like your screen name.

    I enjoy reading some of the longer posts (depends on the particular post), so I don’t really like the idea of a strict limit. Subject lines might be helpful. I also like the idea of asking people to just pay attention to how long their posts are. But mostly I think the longer posts have more interesting things to add to the discussion.

    Especially Aunt Soozie’s! 🙂

  130. mk says:

    I think AB is just asking us to be considerate here. Most of the time, posters here are quite considerate. Sometimes though posters do jump on others in ways that remind me of the worst of some CR/lesbian political groups I was in almost 20 years ago. Statements like “the __ism in so-an-so’s post” without clarification of what is meant remind me of times when someone would say “you need to stop making __ist generalizations” without clarifiying or even trying to find out what the person really meant. We forget sometimes when someone’s words make us angry that the written word, especially the casually written word, is not always an accurate reflection of what someone is really thinking. Some of us are not trained writers, or may not have a lot of education, and posting may be scary because we are used to communicating orally, and when we write it is difficult to get our real meaning across. A little consideration, and maybe taking the time to clarify, can go a long way.

  131. K.B. says:

    … And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes

    I am very happy to skip over long posts, when reading this blog. In that sense they don’t bother me. They do however keep me from posting. Not because I’m intimidated, but rather because I don’t want to repeat something which has already been said. If I can’t read all comments, because of excessive verbosity, I can’t verify if my idea has already been mentioned by someone, and so I’d rather shut up. Because I don’t want to bore people with repetition.

  132. Jana C.H. says:

    Ah, K.B., if you state an idea with brevity and wit, readers will remember your version and forget the verbose one.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith WSG: Nothing is more annoying than to feel that you’re not equal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation.

  133. Duncan says:

    Actually, kate, what I meant was that the “quiet” people are always loud. Just as the people (in general, I don’t necessarily mean here) who complain about others’ being divisive are often the most divisive themselves.


  134. little gator says:

    ppl have mentioned stereotypes they see here. I’d like more detail on this in the hopes I may refute it, in my case anyway.

  135. another anonymous says:

    jesus, look in a mirror! no, i mean, with your eyes open.

  136. judybusy says:

    This is the only blog and comments section I regularly read. That is because people are eloquent, smart, and usually thoughtful. To Alison: I don’t comment a lot, which is very unlike my in viva persona. I finally figured out it’s because people rarely “talk back,” unlike real life, when one has back-and-forth conversation. So, I often feel like my comments fall into a void and it feels weird. (I also understand all of us don’t have the time to respond to each post. Pesty work getting in the way!)Also, other folks usually say what I would have, and more gracefully and cogently.

  137. Brrnrrd says:

    It’s creepy when people start their messages with ‘Alison-‘.

  138. K. says:

    Who said, “I’m sorry this is so long, I had no time to make it short”?

    Seems to me that it takes more skill and thought and consideration to make your point–especially if a complex one–consise. Also, taking time to think about how to make something short may save you from the embarrassment of having fired off an insensed and inflammatory rant when something gentler and more to the point serves everyone better.

    I’m all for keeping it short.

    And it’s true–once those posts get epic, I don’t read ’em either.

  139. Riotllama says:

    I’ve been really busy lately, so I’m getting in on this conversation way late. I am intimidated by the articulate intelligence of posters on this blog. I feel like whatever i might say will sound stupid in comparison. but as someone earlier stated, I own that; thats my own shit to get over. I love this blog for the fact that the posts ARE so articulate and intelligent. I do manage to post anyway, but I’m naturally a very outgoing person (with major social anxiety, what a mix!) so maybe thats not saying much.
    Here’s a suggestion if anyone is still reading this now that there’s 2 newer posts.
    On a forum I read, there is whats called a spoiler box, in which you can put comments that people can choose to read or just pass over. What if people voluntarily put their longer posts in a spoiler box, or if there was a 300 character limit on posts with the option of putting more words in a spoiler box. You could write a long post and then leave a synopsis that others could read a decide if they were up for the whole dissertation. I have no idea what the code for something like that would be, but i bet someone here does.

  140. mysticriver says:

    It’s creepy when people start their messages with ‘Alison-’.

    Why? It’s her blog.

  141. little gator says:

    another anonymous-a mirror won’t help me figure out which group someone thinks I’m being stereotypical of.

  142. Josiah says:

    K., I always thought it was Mark Twain who said “I’m sorry that this letter is so long, but I have not had time to make it shorter,” but I just did a little research and found out that it was actually Blaise Pascal: he said, “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parceque je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” Which is more or less the same thing.

  143. Suzanonymous says:

    Just wanted to say I am not Suz, just not reading much or posting much lately. No slight against Suz, just saying we are different people.

  144. barbara uk says:

    alison, i think the response to your comments proves your point.
    also, do people here not have jobs/lives/children/lovers/fun? i only ask cos some of you spend an awful lot of time blogging.
    sorry if i offend or fail to understand – i am aware that british culture and customs may differ from american.

  145. little gator says:

    I blog a lot because I have health problems which keep me from having a job, or even driving.

    I do have a life, a lover, and fun. BUt not children, luckily for them.

  146. another anonymous says:

    sorry, l.g., wasn’t referring to you or your post. was referring to the one previous.

  147. little gator says:

    Thanks another. BUt I was responding to barbara uk”s question there. Can we get more confused?